RUSSIA-GEORGIA: Russian lawmakers have urged President Dmitri Medvedev to recognize two
breakaway Georgian regions as independent states -- a move likely to
further strain Moscow's relations with the West.
The upper and lower houses of Russia's parliament passed a resolution unanimously today (Monday) calling for recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The resolution is not legally binding. It is up to Mr. Medvedev to make
the final call on diplomatic recognition of the two breakaway regions.
The speaker of the upper house, Sergei Mironov, says South Ossetia and Abkhazia have a right to independence.
ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS: Israeli officials have released 198 Palestinian prisoners, just hours
before a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Rice is to hold meetings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv today (Monday) on
peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Tuesday, she
will travel to Ramallah in the West Bank for more talks.
Some of the prisoners kissed the ground outside Olef Prison after being
released today. They were then driven to a Palestinian checkpoint near
the city of Ramallah. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is due to
host them at a formal celebration later in the day.
PAKISTAN-TALIBAN: Pakistan says it has banned a key Taliban group after the militants
claimed responsibility for a twin suicide bombing last week that killed
at least 64 people.
Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik announced the decision (against Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) today (Monday), a day after Pakistani officials rejected a Taliban cease-fire in Bajaur, a tribal region along the Afghan border.
Pakistani security forces have been fighting Taliban and
al-Qaida-linked militants in Bajaur and other tribal regions on the
Afghan border for weeks. More than 500 militants and 22 soldiers have
been killed in the offensive and thousands more people displaced.
THAILAND-THAKSIN: Prosecutors in Thailand asked the Supreme Court today (Monday) to seize two-point-two billion dollars in cash and assets belonging to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his family.
The prosecutors alleged that the assets were gained in part through
corruption during Mr. Thaksin's five years in office. He was ousted in
a military coup in 2006.
Mr. Thaksin and his family members have denied any wrong-doing. He is currently in exile in Britain.
Last week, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said Mr. Thaksin
Shinawatra and his wife could keep their diplomatic passports despite
having fled to Britain to avoid corruption charges.
US POLITICS: The U.S. Democratic Party's National Convention opens later today (Monday)
in Denver, Colorado, where the first-ever African-American candidate
will accept his party's nomination for president of the United States.
The convention consists of four days of rallies, speeches and meetings,
capped by Thursday's acceptance speech by Illinois Senator Barack
The Republican Party holds its national convention next week.